Zephyrhills Free Press

Virtual learning option ending

Superintendent announces COVID-19 education option wont be available next school year

Pasco School Superintendent Kurt Browning announced Tuesday that next school year Pasco Schools will not offer mySchool Online, the virtual learning option that was created in the early days of the pandemic.

Like most school districts around the state, Pasco created the online option as a temporary alternative to in-person learning and had the alternative option approved by the state for the current school year. Pasco’s nationally recognized online option Pasco eSchool will continue.

“Based on recent trends and initial guidance from the state, we will not offer the mySchool Online option next school year,” Superintendent Browning said. “We expect the vast majority of our students to be back in the classroom for in-person learning, and for our employees to return to the classroom or office.”

The decision was based on several factors. The state authorized options such as Pasco’s mySchool Online for this school year, and state leaders have consistently expressed their belief that in-person learning is preferable. Also, the recent decreases in the number of COVID-19 paired with the increases in vaccinations suggest that a return to a more normal school year will be possible in the fall.

During this unprecedented school year Pasco has offered three basic learning options:

  • Traditional in-person, on-campus learning, where masks are required and other health and safety protocols are in place. Roughly 76 percent of students are currently enrolled in the Traditional option;
  • mySchool Online, which is an online learning options where students maintain a connection to their school and follow the normal school schedule and bell times from their home device. Approximately 21 percent of students are currently enrolled in mySchool Online;
  • Pasco eSchool, a nationally recognized virtual option that has successfully served Pasco students since 2009. This online option is ideal for students who want to have more control over their learning path and pace, and who prefer a more flexible schedule. About 3 percent of students currently are enrolled in Pasco eSchool.

During the upcoming school year, both Traditional and Pasco eSchool will continue. mySchool Online will not. It was always considered a temporary option and certainly was a welcomed additional option, especially in the early days of the pandemic. However, there is a growing body of evidence that many students do not do as well academically in the online environment and would benefit from in-person learning. There also is a growing body of evidence regarding the positive mental health benefits of attending school in person with classmates. During the course of this school year, the percentage of students attending class in person has increased steadily. At one time it was below 60 percent, and now stands above 76 percent.

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